House Prepares to Give President Authority to Wage Worldwide War Forever
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
It isn’t often that Congress voluntarily gives up power to the President of the United States, but that appears to be the case with a terrorism-related provision added to a military authorization act.
Hidden within the National Defense Authorization Act is a provision giving the president of the United States unlimited power to wage war against terrorists anywhere in the world, without end.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has tried calling attention to the open-ended war authority, as has Representative John Garamendi (D-California). The Democratic congressman spoke against the language buried in the National Defense Authorization Act and offered an amendment to strike it, although he later withdrew the amendment.
The ACLU reports that the controversial provision has been around for three years, and was first proposed by the George W. Bush administration in response to the federal courts limiting the government’s efforts to do whatever it liked with Guantánamo prisoners.
The provision was added to the current Defense Authorization bill by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-California), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Defenders of the provision note that the President’s authority to use force is limited to “the current armed conflict with al‐Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces.”
This would not be the first time that fear of terrorism led Congress to give up power to the president. Less than six weeks before the 2006 mid-term elections, Congress rushed through the Military Commissions Act, which handed to the president of the United States the right to interpret, without Congressional oversight, the Geneva Conventions, to waive the right of habeas corpus, to authorize the use of information gathered through torture, and to, in effect, establish a separate judicial system run out of the White House.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Comparison of 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and New World Wide War Authorization (H.R. 1540, Sec. 1034) (ACLU) (pdf)
Bye, Bye Bill of Rights (by David Wallechinsky, Huffington Post)
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